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Casper police officers begin using body cameras

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Body cameras

Mills Police Department Lt. Justin Lindberg plugs his body camera in to charge in 2016 in Mills. Deputies at Sweetwater County Detention Center are now required to wear body cameras.

Casper police announced last week that the department has begun implementation of a new integrated video camera system approved by Casper City Council in December.

The agency began testing body cameras last spring and selected Getac from among three finalists. City documents indicate the system cost about $1.6 million dollars, including installation.

Casper police officers had not previously worn body cameras, although the agency had considered the idea under previous chief Jim Wetzel.

In addition to body-worn cameras, the system also includes new in-car and interview room cameras. Chief Keith McPheeters said the body cameras will be worn by all officers, including evidence technicians and Metro Animal Shelter and Community Service officers.

Installation of the in-car cameras is still underway, McPheeters said.

The department will begin recording all police business conducted with citizens, the chief said. Because the law allows wide discretion in the release of such footage, he said the department will also draft a policy that circumscribes the release of such footage.

The cameras function on a synchronized system, which will minimize the necessity for paperwork following police response to non-criminal matters, McPheeters said. They automatically activate if the rear door of an officer’s cruiser is opened, if the vehicle is involved in a high-speed pursuit or if a nearby officer’s body camera is activated, McPheeters said.

The cameras can also be accessed from police headquarters, which will allow command staff to view streams of officers in the field in real time, McPheeters said. If, for example, an officer is unresponsive, other members of the agency will be able to view the officer’s stream and see what is going on. The function will also enable command staff to send backup without requiring an officer to request it.

McPheeters said the cameras are higher resolution than the car-mounted system being phased out, and a video demonstration of body camera footage was of notably higher quality than footage that was captured from the old system and later released to the public.

Body cameras have begun more common in recent years in the wake of national protests over police shootings. However, some activists have raised concerns about the effect of the cameras on citizens’ privacy.

Follow crime reporter Shane Sanderson on Twitter @shanersanderson

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Crime and Courts Reporter

Shane Sanderson joined the Star-Tribune in 2017. He covers courts and law enforcement agencies in Natrona County and across the state. Shane studied journalism at the University of Missouri and worked at newspapers there before moving to Wyoming.

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